April 5, 2008
IMO committee reaches agreement on emissions reduction
IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has approved proposed amendments to the MARPOL Annex VI regulations to reduce harmful emissions from ships.
The main changes would see a progressive reduction in sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships, with the global sulfur cap reduced initially to 3.50 percent (from the current 4.50 percent, effective from January 1, 2012; then progressively to 0.50 percent, effective from 1 January 2020, subject to a feasibility review to be completed no later than 2018.
The limits applicable in Sulfur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) would be reduced to 1.00 percent, beginning on 1 March 2010 (from the current 1.50 percent); being further reduced to 0.10 percent , effective from 1 January 2015.
Progressive reductions in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from marine engines were also agreed, with the most stringent controls on so-called "Tier III" engines--those installed on ships constructed on or after January 1, 2016, operating in Emission Control Areas.
The revised Annex VI will allow for an Emission Control Area to be designated for SOx and particulate matter, or NOx, or all three types of emissions from ships.
Speaking at the close of MEPC, IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos praised the "excellent progress" made during the week-long MEPC session.
"I am confident that, once adopted as amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, in the coming October, the new measures will prove extremely beneficial to the environment and I commend the Committee wholeheartedly for its achievement in developing them," he said. "It will certainly be one of IMO's finest hours when this happens six months from now", he added.
Mr. Mitropoulos also commended the progress in work on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from shipping operations, including the search for practical means to devise any mechanisms appropriate to address this issue. He welcomed the MEPC's endorsement of his proposal to expedite IMO's work on GHG, in particular, a CO2 Emission Indexing Scheme and CO2 Emission baseline(s).
He thanked Norway for offering to host an intersessional meeting of the GHG Working Group at the end of June.
The proposed draft amendments to Annex VI and the NOx Technical Code will now go to MEPC 58 (which meets October 6-10, 2008) for adoption, in accordance with an agreed timetable that would see the revised Annex VI enter into force in 2010.
The work on greenhouse gases is scheduled for completion in 2009, in time for IMO to submit a position paper to the Copenhagen Conference (December 2009) called for by last year's Conference in Bali on climate change.